Saturday, June 30, 2012
Sens Free Agents Thoughts
We're now less than 24 hours away from the 2012 free agency period and the anticipation is reaching a fever pitch. Everyone wants to know if we'll land a big fish like Parise or Suter. While it's unlikely one of them wears a Sens uni come tomorrow, we do have some choices to make before tomorrow at noon as we have a few UFA's of our own. Do we keep them or let them walk? Here are some of my thought as we head into one of the most important days on the hockey calendar.
The most important of our 7 UFA's is Filip Kuba. He had a a bounceback season in a big way, even largely contributing to the Norris winning season by Erik Karlsson, but if you've been watching Kuba play the past few years, he leaves a lot to be desired. He is without a doubt one of the most frustrating players to ever put on a Senators uniform. The 6'4 defenceman had a very solid 32 points from the backend but carries a 3.7 million dollar pricetag. He is likely after something similiar in a multi year deal that is too rich for the Sens. Him likely leaving will open up a spot in our top 2 pairings that will need to be filled immediately. So far I'm hearing likely suitors will be New York and Detroit.
Ottawa native and heartwarming story Matt Carkner is up next, and I'm afraid if you're a fan of his it isn't good. Unless something miraculous happens in the next 36hours, Carkner will be wearing a new uniform next season. While many loved what the toughness and heart he brought in the playoffs, many seem to also forget he was a healthy scratch half the year. He made 700k this year, which is practically minimum wage in the NHL, but he is rightfully looking for a multi year deal with a raise to the 900k-1 million range. And frankly, to a contending team who needs a steady stay at home defenceman with toughness he may well be worth it. Look for a long list of suitors for him but if the Sens decide to up their offer last minute he would certainly like to stay here.
Jesse Winchester has been a fan favorite for a few seasons now but injuries have really slowed his progress. Last season he was limited to just 32 games and 8 points with a salary of 750k. The Sens have apparently made an offer to him but no word on what it was or if he was receptive to it or not. The truth is if he was happy with the offer he would have signed already. While I have nothing against Winch, he hardly brings anything to the table that any number of hungrier, younger guys couldn't provide us that have more upside. I'd consider bringing him back at the same salary for a one year deal but nothing more. Here's hoping he gets another offer and moves on to another organization. I think that's what happens in the end though his options may be limited. He likely will have to wait a few days into the free agency period for teams that lose out to make some offers.
Zenon Konopka was added last summer during free agency and the 31 year old didn't disappoint in my opinion. While he only dressed for 55 games during the regular season, posting just 5 points, he proved his worth in the playoffs, being one of our best players during the Ranger series. That's the type of disciplined, physical game he has to play to be effective. He made 700k last season but he won't be back. The Sens may miss his toughness and faceoff talent but he should be able to find work elsewhere.
The last 3 are Rob Klinkhammer, Matt Gilroy and Alex Auld. The last 2 have no shot at coming back at all, especially Auld, who became a glorified Sens employee the 2nd half of the year and may have played himself out of the NHL. Gilroy, who was acquired in a deadline deal from Tampa for Brian Lee, won't be back either. The former Hobey Baker Award winner struggled in his time with the Sens and his game isn't likely to attract too much interest in the league either. Klinkhammer was an interesting player, as he started to play well after being called up but failed to ever really produce anything offensively and eventually found himself a healthy scratch. He isn't likely to be back either but you never know, the may give him another shot on a 2 way deal.
It should be an interesting day but don't count on any of these guys to be back in Ottawa come September. It's more than likely than none of them will be returning.